Skip to Main Content
The Official Site of the Carolina Hurricanes

LaFontaine Signs: Why Now?

Making sense of Sunday night's news regarding the signing of the team's 2016 draft pick

by Walt Ruff @WaltRuff / Hurricanes.com

RALEIGH, NC. - Sunday night the Carolina Hurricanes announced the signing of goaltender Jack LaFontaine, a 2016 draft selection who had been playing his final season of NCAA eligibility at the University of Minnesota.

The inking came at an atypical time, as usually college players will wait until the conclusion of their season to turn professional. Once they sign the contract, their days playing for their university are over.

So, what does this mean?

Now that the deal is official, LaFontaine will either come straight to the big club or join one of the Canes minor league affiliates. More info is expected to be shared shortly.

Why now?

In simplest terms, the organization needs goaltending help right now.

Over the weekend it was shared that Antti Raanta is dealing with an upper-body injury, unable to play at this time. In his place came Alex Lyon, who started Saturday night for the club in their contest against the Florida Panthers.

With Lyon coming up, that would normally leave 2017 draft selection Eetu Makiniemi to hold down the starter's crease in Chicago. Joining him then would be Beck Warm, who the Canes signed as an undrafted free agent in March of 2021 after he started his professional career with four consecutive wins with the Wolves. 

However, the issue is that they are both injured.

The Wolves made it through this past weekend's trio of games after signing five different goaltenders to professional tryouts (PTO), playing two in their back-to-back-to-back set against Rockford, Iowa and Cleveland.

Goaltending issues extend even beyond Chicago though, as the Norfolk Admirals, Carolina's ECHL affiliate, have also been forced to make due with PTO goaltenders. Dylan Wells, the goaltender next in the pecking order after Warm, has been away from the team due to COVID protocol.

So, of the five goaltenders that were signed to the Hurricanes and playing professionally in North America, along with the one signed to their Double-A affiliate, only Frederik Andersen and Alex Lyon were healthy on Sunday. 2/6.

Why didn't the Canes just sign one of the AHL/ECHL PTO goaltenders?

At the American Hockey League (AHL) level it is not uncommon for a club to sign a goaltender that has performed well at the ECHL level to a PTO as a short-term fix. While those who filled in may be capable of filling in for a few AHL games, it would be unlikely that the Canes would utilize one of them for any NHL time.

Plus, the organization wants to see what they have in one of their draft picks. It's safe to say the team wants to see how he can perform at the pro level after being named the NCAA's best goaltender for the 2020-21 season while at the University of Minnesota.

So is LaFontaine going to play for the Canes?

Maybe!

He can either join the active roster, taxi squad, or be assigned to either Chicago (AHL) or Norfolk (ECHL), pending the franchise's needs. That will also remain true through the remainder of the season.

How long is he signed for?

Just through the end of the current 2021-22 campaign.

What happens after that?

LaFontaine will be a restricted free agent.

Why didn't the Canes sign one of their other drafted goaltenders?

Simply put, LaFontaine made the most sense. There were only 14 regular season games left in his college career and if he had not signed with the Canes by July 1, he would have become a free agent and could have signed with any other NHL team with no compensation coming to Carolina. Now they can see what they have with him and retain his rights beyond the opening of free agency this summer.

The only other goaltender the Hurricanes have signed at this time is Pyotr Kochetkov, who is currently also under contract with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia. Under current transfer agreement rules, he is not able to come to North America until the conclusion of his current team's season.

 

Any further questions? Reach out on Twitter @WaltRuff and he'll be happy to answer.

 


 

 

Worth A Click:

Canes Sign LaFontaine To Entry-Level Contract

Recap: Canes Take Point In Overtime Loss To Florida

All-Star Fan Voting Open Now

View More